Here at Wide Open Country, we love sharing our favorite music, whether it’s a brand new track that you haven’t heard or an oldie that deserves some new attention. Each week, our team of music writers spotlight one song that stands out among the pack. Here’s what we’re listening to this week.
Lorie’s Pick: “Mockingbird,” Ruston Kelly
“Mockingbird,” the latest track from Ruston Kelly is truly a breath of fresh air. Once again, Kelly proves himself as a great storyteller by immersing the listener into his world and past experiences. Although his sound and subject matter can tread into the waters of Ryan Adams’ saddest early cuts, “Mockingbird” is still filled with hopeful energy — a feeling that we could all use more of these days. Kelly’s debut album, Dying Star, will be released Sept. 7 on Rounder Records and already seems like an early contender for one of the best releases of the year.
Bobbie Jean’s Pick: “Somewhere Between I Love You and I’m Leavin,” Cody Jinks
Something about Cody Jinks‘ latest gorgeous and shadowy ballad reminds me of George Strait’s “Nobody In His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her,” my personal favorite Strait song (this week anyway). The narrator in Jinks’ song hasn’t quite left, but he mirrors the restlessness and loneliness expressed by King George. Like the jukebox classic from Jinks’ fellow Texas native, “Somewhere Between I Love You and I’m Leavin'” evokes images of a near-empty dance floor in a smoky bar and two people holding on to what’s left of a fractured relationship. The track, penned by Jinks and Whitey Morgan, is further proof of Jinks’ power as a performer who marries slow-burning honky tonk with the most soul-baring aspects of the original heroes of Outlaw country.
Rachel’s Pick: “Buttermilk Pancakes,” John DiStase
Instrumental music just doesn’t get as much love as it should these days. On John DiStase’s “Buttermilk Pancakes,” we’re reminded of the simple pleasures of a lazy morning breakfast and cascading arpeggios. Often times, an extra frill or two on something basic is all you need.
Bobby’s Pick: “World Without Willie,” Erin Enderlin, Alex Kline and Tara Thompson
With its future as a single, and its unfairly low number of YouTube views, Erin Enderlin and friends’ “World Without Willie” needs to be brought to the attention of their fellow Red Headed Stranger fanatics. The artist behind one of last year’s sleeper albums in Whiskeytown Crier, Enderlin figures that today’s country music would sound way different without Willie Nelson — if it existed at all. She’s joined by Alex Kline, a fellow singer-songwriter and, as proven here, a sure-handed lead guitarist. Enderlin’s duet partner is Tara Thompson, the latest example of how deep talent runs in her third cousin Loretta Lynn’s family.
Jeremy’s Pick: “Road to Happiness,” Cam
Cam released “Road to Happiness” last week in the midst of her stellar tour run with English pop star Sam Smith. The contemplative song is, as we’ve come to expect from Cam, a vocal gem. She floats between tender musings and self-reflection as she ponders her own quest for happiness. “Does the flower growing in the ground worry just like me?” she sings. “Does he love the sun so much that he don’t mind the weeds?” The concept of happiness is such a subjective and elusive subject that you risk alienating just about everybody by trying to tell them how to be happy. But on this tune, Cam turns inwards and simply gives everyone else a chance to listen in. It’s a delicate balance that Cam navigates marvelously.